“Lara Croft GO is everything you love about Tomb Raider, but with a casual puzzler at its core.”
Lara Croft is the most iconic heroine ever to come out of Square Enix, if not gaming as a whole. Having graced our screens with her presence for over two decades, her latest adventure takes place in a new arena for the character. Following in the footsteps of the successful turn-based model introduced in Hitman GO, Lara Croft GO is everything you love about Tomb Raider, but with a casual puzzler at its core.
Lara’s usual action-filled gameplay has been stripped back to the elements that really made her games tick. Specifically, the focus falls on solving puzzles in exotic and elaborate tombs, filled with mystery and danger, with the goal of finding the treasures and secrets within. There are still deadly traps and creatures lurking in your path, but the game takes the focus off fighting them and places it instead on evading or using them to your advantage. The gameplay is designed to push the feeling of the thrill or the chase and the satisfaction of exploration and adventure. It does both of these things remarkably well; particularly for a turn-based title.
Every element of Lara Croft GO is focussed on its puzzles. Be it the design of the levels, the location of traps or the movement patterns of enemies, nothing is there at random and everything is intended to be useful. Problem solving talent and careful timing are all your truly need to pick up and succeed at Lara Croft GO, opening up the title to a much wider potential audience. Fans of the classic games will also be pleased to find that tomb raiding is just as challenging a task as ever. On top of that, achievement hunters will enjoy going after the various artefacts and gemstones hidden around each level too. Those who find them will be rewarded with just about every outfit in Lara’s traditional wardrobes, as well as some novelty options to join them. A nice touch from the development team. Essentially, Lara Croft GO makes Tomb Raider a game that is enjoyable for anyone.
The slower-paced style of play in Lara Croft GO, thanks to its turn-based nature, allows you to really take in and appreciate the work that has gone into the game’s design. The aesthetics of the game are as masterfully designed as its puzzles, and truly help to make the experience thrive. There is no need for super detailed textures, with the artists instead creating an almost painted world. Colours and shapes speak poetically for themselves, and together forge a thing of beauty. It is easy to be drawn into the world and live within its artistry for hours at a time. With numerous different themes covering the various tombs of the game too, the style manages to stay consistent and at the same time evolve as you progress. This means things are always kept fresh, but you never feel like the levels are throwing you back and forth either. A beautiful journey is created.
In terms of the game’s difficulty level, the best description is that it is moderate. For a long period over the first couple of tombs, there is nothing strenuous to deal with at all. Lara Croft GO does away with Hitman GO’s objective model, meaning there is no need to try and finish a level in a set number of moves or in any particular ways. This however was one of the better features of the original GO game, as it gave each mission some serious replayability. Lara Croft GO only emulates this by teasing you with finding all of its secrets, but this is easily achieved on your first run anyway so long as you are paying attention. Once you complete the main story tombs however, some additional ones offer a slightly higher skill ceiling for those players still wanting for more.
As you progress through Lara Croft GO, some individual levels of tombs do become more tricky, taking longer to think about and complete. Part of the reason for that at least it that it is not always made obvious what is or isn’t possible for Lara to do. One level for example requires you to take a drop which any rational gamer would assume will kill the character. Needless to say, you can get caught up looking at this for some time before you actually try it. Generally speaking however, the game never strains you too much, and it does offer a healthy challenge. The number of levels is just right as well, being possible to blitz in one session if you wish, or at a more gradual pace if you have less free time on your hands.
Naturally, some gamers will question whether a Tomb Raider game without the classic running and gunning can truly hold up. This will be especially true given that the most recent two titles in the franchise’s main line-up have been heavily survival-based, making Lara Croft GO even more of an oddity. People looking for that kind of adrenaline may find that Lara Croft GO is not the game for them. If anything, this game is peacefully immersive rather than explosively gripping. It is very much a different kind of Tomb Raider experience, closer to the original games in mood but truly unique in its own right. Sadly, for some, that will be an off-putting point. Those people will truly be missing out.
As a gamer who has played perhaps every Tomb Raider game there has been, I feel that I am entitled to say that Lara Croft GO is fantastic. The change of pace and scenery is perfectly timed to give you a break from the main series’ high-octane action. The alternative gameplay allows you to chill out on the sofa as you traverse some moderately challenging and well-thought-out levels, that feel in many ways like a throwback to Tomb Raiders gone by. The only issues in the game arise when elements become ambiguous, or you simply run out of reasons to play. There are easily a good few hours of enjoyment to be had with Lara Croft GO however, no matter what style or level of gamer you might be.